“Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But— When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”
Titus 3:1-7 NLT
The following quote comes from a good article called “Risk Your Kids for the Kingdom?” from the “Desiring God” website that encouraged me, because sometimes I doubt our decision to be in Africa in light of the considerations we have for our children. They quote Abigail Adams in a letter she wrote to her son John Quincy Adams before he was sent off to Europe with his father for many years. It contains much truth, and I wish I had the ability to express myself so well to my own children.
These are the times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman.
Could it be for selfish reasons perhaps?
The straightest path to happiness is devoting ourselves to the happiness of others.
If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday. And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. ISAIAH 58: 10-11, NASB
Alcorn, Randy. Happiness (p. 291). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me. . . . I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are, but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying, and ecstatic” existence.[ 23]
Alcorn, Randy. Happiness (p. 282). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
I have a friend April who goes on walks or runs or swims almost everyday, and she takes Instagram photos of what she sees giving some sort of fun quote or Bible verse that snaps the experience into focus. These images and quotes always encourage me, and they challenge me to pay attention to what is going on around me for which I can praise God.
We were having an “Ask Allison” time at dinner last night, and the question was posed to her “How do you stay optimistic and joyful?” And she mentioned that recently when she was tempted to dwell in discouragement as she was walking home from the school, thinking of all the lesson plans and teaching she had in front of her, she heard a bird sing, and she was reminded that God had made it all, and that the song of that bird was one of his gifts to us. And her worries lifted some, and her optimism and joy settled in again.
This morning I could hear the monkeys yelling as I read my Bible. What weird and wonderful animals they are!
And I found this quote, and I remembered April and Allison. I want to look around at what God has done and is doing in his creation for the sake of remembering the happiness I have in him!